Friday, March 2, 2012

Too Close for Comfort

Recent storms in the Midwest have reminded us of how capricious mother nature can be. The wild swings of weather there have even astounded a world traveler like me. I remember a notable day in Oklahoma when I went to work in short sleeves and there was snow on the ground by six that night. It's early spring, but mother nature seems to have a potent brew going. The jet stream is plummeting down from the northwest, making a swing east in southern California and turning north in south Texas. This cool air is mixing with a warm humid air mass off of the Gulf of Mexico and generating windstorms. Some grow into tornadoes, causing the widespread damage we have witnessed of late. What was poignant and haunting to us, is that one of the areas heavily affected was where we workamped last summer. We worked at the Port of Kimberling (often called POK) in Kimberling City, Missouri. It is a charming little town southwest of; and often times overshadowed by, nearby Branson. Unless you have recreated on Table Rock lake you probably have never heard of it. POK is a Mom and Pop operation with a fairly large campground and marina complex. There are close to 50 large piers with boats and all the support shops that they need. They're are even some that live aboard and year round campers. This swarm of storms descended on Kimberling City and Branson at around 1:30 a.m, hop-scotching from spot to spot. It destroyed some of the aforementioned piers, hotels and properties in both towns. If there was an upside, there were few injuries there and the system grew exponentially further north. A fellow workamper was in his 5th wheel when the storm hit. Fortunately he had a few minutes warning from the on site hotel staff and he escaped with minor injuries. This despite having used some of those minutes fumbling around in the dark looking for clothing. He was hanging onto the door of the 5th wheel when the storm balled it up into scrap metal! While all this makes for interesting reading, how does it affect us and our little nomad community? Hopefully, it will make all of us aware of what mother nature can do. Especially in Spring in south Texas. I'm pretty sure that we'll head for the rig; depending on what kind of warning we get. I think I'll take my chances inside one of those heavy steel containers rather than inside my motor home. Failing that, I'll look for a low spot outside somewhere. Don't laugh, it is a recommended and proven alternative for refuge in a tornado. Last summer we were nearly caught up in similar weather. We were rousted from our motor home and told to hunker down. One time in a nearby brick shower house and the other in the nearby hotel. Knowing the people and having worked there made this outbreak a sobering experience.

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